Debra Stephenson started making an impression at the tender age of six with her impressions of the the likes of Margaret Thatcher and Kate Bush. She began following her dream of a career on the stage by going to dance, drama and singing lessons. Debra entered various talent shows and competitions with her comedy impressions routine and, by the time she was 13, began performing professionally in social and working men’s clubs. Then in 1987, at the age of 14, she made her TV debut on Bob Says Opportunity Knocks. In 1990, Debra went “alternative” with a show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and a subsequent tour of Student union bars, as well as other comedy venues, including Covent Garden’s Comedy Store. She also began working in radio and even did some of the voices on Spitting Image.
In 1993, Debra changed direction and embarked on training as a serious actress at the Manchester Metropolitan University. Upon graduation, she soon got her first break in Paul Abbot’s ITV drama Reckless, starring Robson Green and Francesca Annis. She also co- presented the BBC1 children’s show The Friday Zone. A higher profile started to grow with three series of the BBC 1 TV drama, penned by Kay Mellor, Playing the Field, in which she played the loveable but ditzy Diane Powell; and another three series of Bad Girls, for which Debra was twice nominated for Best Actress at the National Television Awards and won most popular actress at The TV Quick Awards, for her role as the evil Shell Dockley. Other shows continued to tap into her talents for comedy as well as straight drama, from Catherine Cookson’s A Dinner of Herbs, to Spooks, from Midsummer Murders and Where the Heart Is to the BBC 1 sketch show TV to Go.
At the moment Debra is probably best known for her impressions of the likes of Davina McCall, Ann Robinson and Cheryl Cole in The Impressions Show with Culshaw and Stephenson, in which she starred in 3 series for BBC1, along with her comedy counterpart Jon Culshaw. However, she has kept her hand in with straight acting having more recently played serious roles in dramas such as ITV’s Waterloo Road, Channel 4’s Upfront: The Postcode Lottery and BBC1 children’s drama Rocket Island, which is due to screen later this year.
Debra’s most recent project combines her love of comedy and cookery in the genre-mashing, cutting-edge cook-show with a comic twist, “Fanny and Friends”, in which Debra brings Fanny Cradock “back from the dead” to host a brand new programme for Channel 4. The pilot was recently screened on More 4 as part of a whole evening of Fanny’s favourite recipes, entitled “A Night in with Fanny” as part of Channel 4’s Stand up for Cancer charity campaign.